Logitech’s Revue Google TV box is now available for pre-order for $299, revealing a host of new features—HD calling, a wide array of controls, myriad apps, and—if you order today, it’ll arrive by the end of the month.
How You’ll Control It
Logitech worked closely with Google to make the keyboard a definitive means of navigating Google TV’s services. The Revue’s surprisingly thin keyboard will include a touchpad, d-pad, and full QWERTY buttons.
A full-QWERTY “mini controller,” containing all the same functionality as the full keyboard, will also be available, utilizing the same Harmony remote technology as Logitech’s other Revue peripherals.
A mobile app—Logitech Harmony Remote—for both Android and iPhone, will provide a third option for controlling the Revue, providing both a traditional menu interface and gesture control—navigating your TV with swipes. Or, ditch your fingers entirely and use voice commands—a Logitech rep was able to call up episodes of The Price is Right by simply speaking the show’s title.
This entire family of control peripherals will require no additional dongles—a plus for home theater minimalists. If you’re a Dish TV owner, you’ll enjoy some exclusive perks for the time being—anything on your box will be searchable through the Google TV interface on the Revue, without any additional setup. For those of you without Dish—or any cable service, for that matter—Google TV will function with the tuner of an existing box, meaning your TiVo will hook up fine. Those concerned about Dish’s exclusivity needn’t worry, with reps saying the deal won’t last long, and is only arranged with Logitech, not the entire Google TV ecosystem.
Apps and Content
Content can also be pushed off of your PC or any DLNA server, allowing for easy local streaming. All major codecs—MP3, AAC, JPEG, and most importantly MKV—will be supported out of the box.
Netflix streaming will be accesible via an Android-based app provided for Google TV—meaning an Android phone app is likely on its way. Also mentioned are negotiations between Google and Hulu for integration of the latter’s content.
Other apps will be available from a Google TV market, which reps say should launch sometime next year. An SDK, based on the existing Android SDK, will be made available, with a Google rep saying devs “will be able to reuse a lot of code.” The same rep said a separate search algorithm—”Google TV Search”—draws from a wide body of content, including live television, guide listings, and, when paired with Dish, video stored on your DVR. The TV search will also pull in what’s on the web.
All apps demonstrated—including the browser—appeared fast and fluid, a layer of polish seen throughout the entire interface.
You’ll Be Video Chatting With It
The Revue, combining the Vid HD Google TV app and a separate camera and mic, will provide integrated video chatting, directly from your living room. Video chat will not be limited to conferencing between Revue TV cams—any Logitech camera will be able to dial video calls to your box.
Incoming video calls will be viewable in two separate areas—an LED on the conferencing camera itself (for notifications even when the TV is off), as well as from the Vid HD app.
An initial demo of variable zoom levels looked great—impressively clear video and audio. The call’s fidelity can be attributed to the TV camera’s Carl Zeiss lens, dual microphones, built-in autofocus, and an emphasis on low-light adaptability. The camera requires at least a 1 Mbps connection, and is the only camera that will work with the vid chat app, as it uses unique hardware compression.
We now know the full extent of the box’s hardware capabilities:
• HDMI 1.3 with 1080p, 60fps output
• 2 USB ports (allowing for added local Google TV storage)
• 802.11a/b/g/n wireless connectivity
• Integrated support for the Logitech Harmony remote
• SPDIF audio out
• Ethernet connectivity
How Much It Costs
The Revue box itself is priced at $299, the keyboard at $99, the mini controller at $129, and the smartphone apps will be available for free. The TV cam will be expensively priced—set at $149. The Revue setup will be available for preorder from Best Buy and Amazon, shipping this month.
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